Novartis plans for $5 billion share buyback

 Novartis plans for $5 billion share buybackNovartis AG (NOVN. VX) the Swiss drugmaker is planning to buy back $5 billion of its shares.

The buyback is part of a $10 billion programme authorised by investors in 2008 and which was partially resumed in 2010 to pacify shareholders in the awakening of Novartis' $39 billion purchase of the rest of eye care firm Alcon.

Joe Jimenez, Chief Executive said in a statement,"Novartis has reached an inflection point, having fully integrated Alcon and reduced debt."

A broad review of operations is being done by the Basel-based company following the departure of  Daniel Vasella ,veteran chairman and one-time CEO and some analysts believe that there is scope for a bigger handout to the company's shareholders.

The payout could also help relieve concerns ahead of the loss of exclusivity from 2015 on its biggest seller, cancer drug Glivec, that could draw on mid-term growth.

The company is also taking into account options for its non-core assets that lack the extent to become world leaders. In a statement on Friday before a series of presentations to investors and analysts in London it gave no sign of its plans for its smaller businesses.

Novartis last week took the first step in a much-anticipated reorganization by agreeing to sell its blood transfusion testing unit to Spain's Grifols SA (GRLS. MC) for $1.7 billion.

Novartis shares, which have a stock market value of $214 billion, were up yb 2.6 percent at 74.20 by 0832 GMT, pushing it to the top of the European healthcare sector index .SXDP, which was 1.2 percent stronger.